Friday, February 10, 2012
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
If you have to be reading classics, Jules Verne is great for adventure and entertainment. The audiobook version of Journey to the Center of the Earth was a treat for my ears. Over the years I had heard bits and pieces about this tale, yet had managed to avoid it throughout my public education. I was doing myself a disservice.
Unexpectedly, the story starts out in Germany with a cranky, excitable geology professor and his ward and nephew Axel. I know - I hear the name Axel and think of some young college dude who has suffered too much rugby without helmet protection. But I quickly get over my little stereotype as Axel is very concerned about his safety throughout the story. Ok - So what else is odd? Well, these two are deciphering some old Icelandic text. Once the hidden tale becomes clear, the professor is unstoppable - he must follow in the footsteps of the adventurer who put this story to paper. He must journey to the center of the earth. Crazy old fart.
So they book passage to Reykjavik, where they lay in stores and hire a local eider-down hunter (apparently more manly a job than it sounds). Hans takes care of these two throughout the story, saving their lives many times over. He is portrayed as the strong silent type, only speaking a few words of Danish.
They must now travel to the extinct volcano identified in the Icelandic tale, where they venture down and then sideways and down and sideways. Getting to the exotic inner travel spots of the Earth was half the adventure. Once they get there, numerous other hazards and wonders keep them plenty busy. I'll leave you to discover the rest of the tale.
The audio artist for this book was Chris Pebble, who had a smooth voice and good range, in addition to carrying off the bits for French, Italian, Latin, German, Dutch, etc.
+++: Adventure, geology, odd rock formations, fossils, walking, breathing extinct animals, really good audio production, tight plot, a bit of character growth.
-: The only 2 female characters get left behind to tend the house, with the young beauty putting her life on hold until Axel's return with her highest aspiration being to marry him.